Could You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

October 24,2016
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Out of Work? Health Problems? Could You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

You are out of a job.  In fact, you have been looking but the type of work that you have been doing is now being done by robots!  You do not think that you can start all over again at your age.  Your back and knees keep you from standing for any length of time or doing any manual labor.  Or you have other medical issues that make a full day’s work tough.  Now you are thinking about Social Security disability and wondering if you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Disability Benefits—a Little History

When we talk about Social Security benefits, we are usually referring to the program that pays retirement benefits to the majority of older Americans who have worked and paid into the system.  The Social Security Act was passed in 1935.  There was no provision for disability benefits in the Act despite the recognition that there was a need to provide income for workers who were no longer able to work due to some physical or mental condition.  There were many who believed that it would not be possible to determine if someone was really unable to do any type of substantial work. The belief that many people who were actually able to work would be able to get disability benefits delayed the creation of a disability insurance fund for many years.

In 1956 the Social Security disability insurance program was enacted.  Its stated purpose is to provide monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work.  This disability program is now part of and is administered by the Social Security Administration or the SSA.

What Does It Take to Get Approved?

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits you must prove that you are not able to work.

More precisely, you must be:

  • Unable to do substantial gainful activity (a job that pays more than a minimal amount)
  • Because you have a medically determinable impairment (one or more mental or physical conditions that can be proven by medical evidence)
  • That has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or end in death.

If you’ve lost your job, you will have no problem proving that you are not currently engaged in any substantial gainful activity since you are not working.  The next question is: why aren’t you working?  Are you unable to work because of an impairment or condition that can be proven medically or are you just not able to find a job?  If you lost your job because the company that you worked for closed its doors or no longer needed someone to do the job that you were doing, that does not prove that you are disabled.  It means that you are unemployed.

Social Security disability is not an unemployment benefit.  While it is true that to qualify you have to be pretty much out of job, the reason for being out of job must be a mental or physical condition that you are dealing with.

A Closer Look

Let’s take a closer look at your situation.  We know why you no longer have your previous job.  The question is: why haven’t you been able to go back to work?  Your old job is gone and no one is willing to hire you and train you for different work.  You have tried to take on a few part time jobs but those involved hard, physical work that your back and legs just can’t handle for more than a few hours at a time.   You are getting up in age and things just take longer than they used to.

Don’t be too quick to think that you do not qualify for benefits.  The condition or impairment that is keeping you from working need not be a broken back or some other injury caused by an accident.  You do not need to be confined to bed or a wheel chair to qualify.

Moreover, the Social Security disability adjudicator can consider your age, education, and previous training when deciding to grant or deny your application for benefits.  The reason for losing your job is important, but your application for disability benefits will need to address the reason that you are not working at the present time.

What to Do Next

Here is some advice that you should seriously consider.  You are reading this information because you are thinking about filing for disability but aren’t sure you have any chance of qualifying.  You haven’t been able to find a job that you are able to do and you are afraid that you are not going to be able to support yourself or your family.  You may be about to make some decisions that will have a long lasting impact on your life.  Your next step should be to talk to an attorney who is experienced in handling Social Security disability cases.  The laws and procedures for applying for disability are complicated.  The attorneys at the Hermann Law Group have many years of experience in these matters.  An appointment with an attorney who can help you decide will be free and just may put you on your way to receiving benefits.

Some people complain about those on disability.  They claim that disability recipients are getting money from the government that they don’t deserve.  Do not let these comments keep you from applying for the benefits that you are paying for.  You can rest assured that your application will be examined carefully.  When you do get benefits, you will have proven that you really are disabled!

Preparing for Your Meeting with a Disability Attorney

Here are a few tips to making your trip to the attorney more productive:

  1. Be aware of any physical or mental issues that you have been dealing with. If you have not been to the doctor and had a good physical in a while, you should consider at least scheduling a check-up.
  2. Talk to family members or friends and find out if they have noticed any conditions that you appear to be dealing with.  Often people will notice problems that you are having but will be reluctant to say anything unless you ask.
  3. Make a list of your work history. Include the type of work, the number of hours a week, and a description of the actual tasks necessary to do the job.  For example, lifting and carrying 25 pounds a distance of 20 feet 10 to 15 times in a 4 hour shift; standing on your feet for 2 or more hours.
  4. Make a list of tasks that you are not able to perform. This may include walking more than 50 feet at a time, climbing stairs, working on things that are over your head, etc.
  5. Be prepared for the application process to take many months.


To speak with a disability attorney about your situation and get a free evaluation of your case, call the Hermann Law Group at 914-286-3030.